Jan Dawson –
Achieving diversity in governance is a means to a number of important ends.
Above all, gender and ethnic diversity are good for business.
A number of studies have indicated that companies with more balanced boards tend to perform up to one-third better and make more balanced decisions, particularly with regard to risk. As most companies sell products and services to a wide range of people, it is also critical that those who set the direction for the business understand their customers.
More than Face Value
Women are just one part of this diversity jigsaw puzzle.
In a commercial environment, the benefits of diversity are not simply ‘face value’, or a marketing ploy designed to get consumers to identify with us.
The real gains come from the diversity of thought from bringing together people with a range of talents, experience and different points of view.
If we want to foster innovation then we need to draw on those who come at problems from a different perspective.
These are quite different drivers from the politics of representation, which often dominate debates in the public sector.
Those debates inevitably focus on the fact that women and members of ethnic minorities tend to be under-represented at senior levels of decision-making.
Advocates argue that candidates should be selected who reflect the diverse nature of the electorate to drive greater and deeper participation in our democracy.
That is a valid argument, but tends to overemphasise diversity as an end in itself.
In the commercial world, the drivers are clear – diversity is an important tool in achieving the best possible business results.
However, in both the private and public sectors, the challenge is how to ensure that our companies and institutions are tapping in to the widest possible pool of talent, thereby creating the best conditions for success.
Jan Dawson is Chairperson of Westpac and Deputy Chairperson of Air New Zealand. She will be the Guest Speaker at the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture scheduled to be held at Pullman Hotel on Monday, July 27, 2015.
Radio Tarana and Relianz Forex Limited are the Title Sponsors of the Lecture, which will be attended by Sir Anand & Lady Satyanand, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Barristers, Lawyers, medical practitioners, businesspersons and government officials.
Jan Dawson Quotes
“Diversity is very important for boards as it brings diversity of thinking and diversity of perspectives. That is really useful when it comes to problem solving and innovation.””
“Evidence suggests more balanced boards make better decisions.”
“Women are 50% of the population, so if you do not encourage women to aspire to senior management and governance roles then you are dramatically limiting your talent pool.”
“By fostering diversity you get to choose from a wider talent pool, increasing competition and choice.”
“Diversity is not an end in itself; it is a means to creating the best conditions for success.”
“If we want more women on boards then we need to work on getting more women into senior management roles, as that is the pipeline for governance.”